Note: Original title of post was, “What is Activism?”
(Not journalism, just rambling)
We have the potential to heal others and heal ourselves. Most healing happens in the simple act of listening. Allowing the other to their right to a hearing and keeping the door open long enough for there to be a happening. The happening I refer to is thehealing, the moment in which two people make a commitment to aid each other in the journey of life. This is especially potent when the two people come from different sides.
Activism is a direct result of a person or persons who have not gotten a fair hearing. They have been and continue to be silenced long enough so that finally, they explode. Most activism is accidental. Most activism is a last resort. It is usually an act of survival. Graffiti in the 80’s was activism because it was the space that youth claimed as their own to come to voice. Blogging and social media Twitter is the same for many—it offers a chance for those who otherwise wouldn’t be heard to share with the world their matter-of-fact life. Unfortunately, social media and the internet offers false hopes to the masses who need real healing. Why? Because after a while, one realizes that the spit into the wind is just that, spit. Real activism, real healing comes from the risk it takes for two or more people to engage in genuine listening and promise to become critical friends towards eradicating social injustice. This can be an exchange of trade, monetary or it could be symbolic in position/rank or access to resources that otherwise would be out of reach. It is a promise to open the system to possible change, by admitting the “grey.”
In my humble experience, there are many who are unwilling to fight for what is most important, to see through the bullshit, to fight for the most valuable source, to get past the stage of judgment and self defense to stand up in real activism. This kind of real activism requires a fundamental challenge of oneself and all that is involved in the status quo. It is placing value on the “unknown.” Ironically, pseudo activists or liberals that are intellectually acute on all issues involving social justice are part of the problem of social change. It is because they are so easily bought or recruited, for their ideals and intellectual stamina on any given subject. Unfortunately, I have noticed that many of those with the best of intentions end up cowards. I have been a coward and continue to fight that battle. I am not pointing outwards, but all around including me. It is because poverty, hunger and fear for survival are so near to our existence that it is such a big dare to stand up for the masses. I don’t mean stand up for one, or two, but all. This requires a greater boldness, a greater power to stomach self-criticism, to bargain, to negotiate, to compromise,–ultimately to listen.
It has always been my greatest desire to teach this skill to others, the agency needed for truth and real activism…to teach the poor to stand up and to teach the rich that there is space for us all. Education for me, writing for me, reading for me has always been about the quest for freedom. You can not take the pen from a true activist. If he or she does not give it up, that should be sign enough for anybody of integrity. Not that working with a person of integrity is easy, it is not…. but it is a real marriage for the required effort for social change.
I have made many mistakes and have passed judgment too easily. I have fought for lost causes and left just causes, not knowing –
Yet, I stick to this truth. True activism is the willingness to give over your power to the hundreds because you must think gullible like a child, and believe that we as human beings are capable of honesty and truth and that there is a place for listening and justice. This is healing. This is the spiritual side of activism.